Totally Unprepared: Losing Sight of the Shore

You guys… I’ve broken out the scarves.

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I actually love fall, but it’s moments like this that remind me that after fall comes winter, and winter means cold. And wet, cold, snow.  I don’t like being cold, wet, or in the snow.

I think I’m a wimpy Canadian.  Or a spoiled one.  Perhaps if I grew up in Alberta or Saskatchewan and was used to -40˚C I wouldn’t have this problem.  It’s like Boyfriend, who grew up in a part of the country that frequently had snow up to your waist, and hit the minus 30s and 40s on the regular in the winter… yeah, he has NO problem with the cold.  Living where we do now he doesn’t even wear a winter jacket.  Meanwhile there’s me who piles on the the parka and three sweaters as soon as it gets around zero.

Yep, I think if I had lived somewhere else and been used to cold, I’d be different.  Perhaps I’d own long-johns, actually enjoy hockey, and put maple syrup on my pancakes.  And I’d have a pet polar bear named Alfie living in the backyard.

(Joke.  I reaffirm, we do not have pet polar bears, live in igloos, or take baths in maple syrup… as far as I know.  But the world is made up of all kinds of people.)

Perhaps that would have prepared me for what is to come.  I was Skyping with one of my best friends last night, and she announced excitedly that her and her fiancé had finally set a date for their wedding, and I was super excited for them… until she said it was going to be on December 31st.  That in and of itself isn’t the WORST thing… but she also happens to live in one of the coldest places in Canada.  Hence, me in bridesmaid territory, that reads, “I’m going to be in -40˚C, in the middle of winter, in a dress, not wearing 400 layers of clothing, and be ridiculously unprepared for this.”

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image source (side note: Boyfriend would argue I NEED this sweater…)

I’m happy for her, I am.  But is it okay to say I’m absolutely terrified as well?

There are so many things coming up lately that I feel ridiculously unprepared for.

I started a new job this week as a mixer/shaper/person at a bakery, another job I’m ridiculously unprepared and unqualified for.  I have no formal training… and a strong tendency to make yeast breads that are flat.  RISE, damn you!

So I’m literally running on a passion for food, being a morning person (yay 4-5 am shifts!), knowing that I REALLY REALLY want to learn how to do this, and hoping to high heaven I can keep it together long enough to not make unleavened bread unintentionally out of every single loaf I am in charge of starting.

Either that or the whole bakery will be really prepared for Passover.

I was also unprepared for the change that was going to happen in my dietitian’s appointment a couple weeks back.  To clarify, I’m not relapsing.  I’m not falling apart.  BUT I did lose A LOT of exercise privileges (that spelling SO doesn’t look right but autocorrect is telling me it is!) because we’re running along the lines of, “What kind of life do you want to have?”

I know as soon as I admit I’m doing something compulsively, and not because I’m genuinely wanting to do it, we’re going to deal with the issue.  And that’s why it took me so long to bring it up, even though I knew I’d have to cross that bridge eventually.  I knew, and still know, the way to reduce behaviour related anxiety is to stop engaging in the compulsive behaviour without coming up with more compensatory measures.  And then sit with it.  OVER, and OVER.

AKA:  I want to exercise to change my body… therefore I must STOP exercising to change my body, and NOT restrict food to make up for a lack of activity.

“What kind of life do you want to create for yourself?”

“Is this behaviour worth the emotional toll it is taking?”

“What are you willing to give up to create the life you want?”

(Side note: If you start singing, “Let it go”, I will come and murder you in your sleep.  Sorry, not sorry.)

If you hope to recover, you have to be willing to let go of things. At the moment, that means for me, I need to let go of compulsive exercise, or exercise to impact what I look like.  AND at the moment, that means really cutting everything down, down, down, so I can sit with that anxiety and work through it.  If you hope to recover, you have to be willing to let go of things.  I know this seems like an obvious statement, but when put into practice it’s actually quite a difficult thing.

Picture yourself on a sailing trip, when your boat hits an unseen high reef and instantly springs an irreparable leak.  Because you’re such a daredevil and do things on impulse (yeah, I know… but bear with me here), you planned this trip spur of the moment, without telling anyone you were going, and went solo.  And you also decided that nothing could be better than finding Jaws in his natural habitat (because Nemo and Free Willy are so last season), so you decided to sail to known shark infested waters.  Knowing the boat was toast, and you have to go somewhere, you swim rapidly to the closest sprig of land nearby; a tiny island.  You make it there safe, but there’s no one living there, and limited resources.  You might be fine for a while, but eventually you’re going to have to make a move.

Oh, and you’re a recovering pyromaniac who can’t risk lighting a fire…

And you’re also suffering from aichmophobia (fear of sharp/pointed things) and petraphobia  (fear of rocks), so using a stick to write SOS in the sand, or writing it out of rocks is not an option.  You’re an aichmophobic, petraphobic, pyromaniac, who is somehow also an impulsive daredevil living on the edge…

Basically, you’re a walking enigmatic contradiction that should have been in therapy YEARS ago. (My apologies for the judgment if YOU are actually an aichmophobic petraphobic pyromaniac.  It’s not personal.)

But I digress… point is, you’re royally screwed.  And the daredevil you’re trying so hard to be figures this out because contrary to your rash actions you’re not actually stupid.  And once a daredevil figures out that luck has run out, that daredevil is terrified.

You’re unprepared.  You’re at a precipice.  You’re on your own.  You make the decisions.  You have to save yourself.

So regardless of the danger, you know you eventually have to leave the island.  Even though jaws may be circling around, you face certain death or possible death.  You have to work up the courage to leave, and that takes time and perseverance.

So the first time, you swim out maybe ten meters.  You test the waters.  But you’re not ready, and you’re not able to keep going, so you swim back.  And the next time, you swim out maybe 15 meters… and then you swim back.  The cycle keeps going… hours, days… I’d say weeks but if you’re on an island with no resources you probably don’t have that long.  Each time you make it out a little further, until eventually you have to take that last step and lose sight of the spit of land in the hopes of a better option just out of sight.

Luckily, just out of sight is another island where they are currently filming the next ridiculous reality TV show that’s somewhat Lord-of-the-Flies-esque probably with convicts because we all like to make TV shows about life in prison recently.  And there’s plenty of donuts and burnt coffee to satisfy your hunger and caffeine needs… as well as a way off the island assuming you’re not like Piggy.

Wow… you know I try to be emotionally deep, but my sarcasm and overly critical nature sometimes gets the best of me…

The point is: Just like a life or death situation on an island, you are faced with a life or death situation in recovery.  Just like you have to literally lose sight of the shore to escape a uncharted island, you have to lose sight of what is comfortable and familiar in recovery in order to create a life worth living for the long term.

AKA:

 

I know I’ve used it before, but I’m using it again because it’s so important.

What are you willing to give up to create the life you want?

What shore do you need to lose sight of to cross the ocean?

And, are you willing to take that risk, even if you’re feeling unprepared, because the grass might just be greener on the other side?

Basically, regardless of how unprepared I feel, I realize that staying on my island is certain death.  No, I’m not currently dying.  No, I’m not relapsing.  No, I’m not back at the point of life or death, eat or die, in the hospital, organs shutting down, and all that fun jazz… although you might be.  But just as severe as a physical death, emotional death is significant.

The reality is:  If I don’t start to leave parts of the eating disorder behind, I cannot create the life that I want to live.  And if I cannot create the life that I want to live, I will never feel satisfied, content, or at peace with myself or with my situation.  And if I don’t feel satisfied, physically, and emotionally, that is just as bad as a physical death.

I have to give a lot up.  And I’m grossly unprepared to do it.

  1. The idea of a lack of cellulite
  2. The thigh gap
  3. Allowing the ED to buffer me and give an excuse for me to put life on hold
  4. Exercising to manipulate my body
  5. The idea that health=thinness
  6. All food rules, and judgements about foods
  7. The need to feel in control all the time
  8. Perfectionism and not allowing myself to make mistakes

I’m sure there’s a lot more.  And do I know what will happen when I give these things up?

Nope.

Not a clue.

BUT, if I hold on to them, I am doomed to stay where I am.  And that’s not a place I want to be.

So I let the exercise go these past two weeks.  I let go of the hour of activity after work…for a few days.  And then I brought it back.  And then I let it go for a few more.  And I brought it back.  And then we did again, for longer.

I swam 10 meters from the shore, and then I returned.  Then I swam 15, and back I went.  The cycle continued, and continues.  And that’s okay.

It’s okay if it’s a process.  It’s okay if it takes a long time.  It’s okay if it isn’t all or nothing.  Because it’s hard, and you need to swim back when you’re struggling to tread water.

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But eventually, prepared or not, you have to lose sight of the shore.  You have to not look back.  You have to put all your energy into going only forward.  Because where your going has to become more important than where you’ve been.

It isn’t easy.  But nothing worth doing ever is.

30 Things That are More Important Than my Pant Size.

So yesterday, I reached a precipice:

I had an important meeting to go to… the kind that you can’t wear yoga pants or leggings to.  Which meant digging through my closet to find ACTUAL clothes.

Sometimes being a grown up isn’t fun.

Anyways, I found 3 pairs of pants:

  1. A pair of thai pants… anyone who knows what thai pants are knows that these gems, while super comfortable, make leggings look like business suits.
  2. A pair of sweats… a skip from casual leggings to the lazy Saturday, not-leaving-the-house wear.
  3. A pair of pants I bought around January/February of this year. Wrinkled, but nothing an iron wouldn’t fix.

Obviously, I had to go with the third option.  While to many, this is a non-stressful endeavor, for me, trying on clothes that I haven’t worn in a long time produces tons of anxiety.

Will they still fit?

Has my body changed?

I see fat accumulating on the daily, but they say it’s not an accurate perception.  What if this is my worst fear come true?  An enforcement that what I see is really what’s there?

If I do put them on, and they don’t fit, how will I react?

Will it be the start of more restriction?  A more intense exercise regime?  A reinstatement of my old eating disordered ways?

How will I cope with this?

Regardless, I had to put on the pants.  I built myself up while ironing them, popped a few benzodiazepenes (kidding), and tried to tell myself it would all be okay.

And guess what?

The stupid things didn’t fit.

Correction:  The stupid things didn’t fit the SAME as they fit at the beginning of January.

So let me clarify something… your brain doesn’t store useless information, or stuff that is deemed unimportant.  That’s why, if someone asks you what you ate on September 1st, the most likely response would be something along the lines of:

“WTF, I have no idea?!  Why the heck does it matter?”

And believe it or not, what your body looks like on a day to day, minute to minute basis is pretty useless information.  I mean, your brain is much more preoccupied with keeping your heart beating and remembering how to get home from work so you don’t end up half way to Alaska.  THAT my friends is useful information!

Hence, the argument of many eating disordered patients of, “I swear my stomach has grown two inches since the last time I looked in the mirror!” is pretty unfounded.  The brain plays tricks, the disorder plays tricks, and creates a fictional perception of what you looked like before based on what you BELIEVE you looked like before, and what SEEMS logical in your brain.

Regardless though, the facts lie in the fabric:  my pants were tighter in certain places.  While I can’t remember EXACTLY specifically how the pants fit, because again, useless information, I remember them being a touch looser around my thighs, and butt.

The argument of me is instantly:

The argument of the boyfriend is: “It FITS you, instead of being baggy.  They look good!”

It’s not a drastic change, but it’s a change nonetheless.

In ED recovery, one of the hardest things is coping with a changing body, even if its changing for all the right reasons.  There’s the constant comparison between where you were and where you are now.  You have to make peace with yourself, inwardly and outwardly.  That includes accepting that your body wants to be a certain size and shape, and you have very little control over that if you want to live life as a normal person and not as a crazy food-and-exercise obsessed control freak.

That also includes accepting that the clothes you had when you were disordered, or the clothes you had even before your disorder might, or more likely than not, won’t fit.  AND knowing that that doesn’t mean you’re ballooning, anymore than it means you’re fat.  And even if you are, is that the worst thing you could be?

You also have to decide what you’re willing to give up to create the life you want.

In a world of people telling you to never give up, to push yourself to the limit, and to strive for nothing short of perfection, I am your antithesis.  It is impossible to create a life that is filled with everything.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Something’s gotta give.  _______ (Insert other overused historical/film quote here).

The same thing applies to eating disorders, or rather eating disorder recovery.  If you hope to recover, you have to be willing to let go of things.  I know this seems like an obvious statement, but when put into practice it’s actually quite a difficult thing.

So what do you have to give up?

Is it the idea of a lack of cellulite?

A thigh gap?

The ability of the ED to act as an excuse for putting life on hold?

Is it exercising when you’re really anxious about moving?

The idea that health = thinness?

All the food rules and judgements you hold in the name of “health”?

Is it the need to feel in control and right/perfect all the time?

For me, it’s all these things and more.  AND it’s the idea that a certain arbitrary label sewn, probably haphazardly, into an article of clothing has the right as well as the power to determine my worth, value, beauty, and integrity as a human being.

Because in your everyday life, do you look at a woman next to you on the bus, who society deems as “overweight” but who also has volunteered countless hours at the local homeless shelter, and say, “You have less value than the thin woman next to you who has fundraised more for the SPCA than anyone in the town.” ?

Do you say to an “overweight” woman breastfeeding her newborn that because she’s “fat” her breast milk is worth less to the baby she’s feeding, than the thin woman doing the same sitting next to her?

Your weight is the least interesting thing about you.  And whether or not you can fit into a size 2 or a size 14 is hardly the most important thing in your life.

At some point, we have to make peace with our changing shape.  With everything in our lives, we have to decide whether it is something that is important, or whether it’s something that is preventing us from creating the life we want.

We stand at a crossroads, or a fork in the road as obvious as the fork dividing your left pant leg from your right.  We can put on our pants, suck in our guts, and do up the button, all while lamenting the loss of our willowy frames, our high school bodies, our 25 year old stomach, or our grey-less hair.  We can beat ourselves up and make ourselves feel like crap for changing.  And we can choose whether the things we have given up or lost, are things that we still want to hold on to or get back.

As my pants hugged my thighs, and caressed my hips and butt, I felt like a failure.  I felt panicked.  I felt as if my world was ending and my worst fears were being realized.  I felt like the person I was was gone, and I could never get her back.

All because denim is unforgiving after a trip through the laundry machine.

But I had a choice.  I could continue to hate myself.  I could cut out sugar.  I could decrease my portions.  I could skip a few snacks.  I could exercise for just 10, 15, 20 minutes more.  I could bust out the screwdriver and put the treadmill that I dismantled because I didn’t want to be chained to it, back together.  I could find the person I was, and bring her back.

I’ve done it before.  Enter relapse, again.

Or I could decide that there were other things that I valued MORE than the person I was, or the size of my pants.  I could be uncomfortable, unsure, unsteady, and exposed to the harsh realities of limited motion fabrics, and not change a thing.  I could move on with my day, and my life.

I could set my priorities… and I did.

30 things that are more important than my pant size:

  1. I can go out to whatever restaurant my friends, family, or boyfriend pick without having a complete mental breakdown, ordering a salad, or looking up the menu/calories ahead of time.
  2. I have a latte every day, and it is 100% delicious and a very normal, enjoyable part of my morning.
  3. I’ve had a few cocktails, a couple slices of cake, and made memories to last a lifetime.
  4. I’ve had cookie crumbs fall into my bra, and lost a drop or two of ice cream in there as well.  I remember a time neither of those would touch my lips or fingers, never mind get up close and personal with my feminine features.
  5. I FINALLY learned to bike, and I bike… a lot.  And have increased the strength and musculature of my legs, as well as my genetically crappy knees.
  6. I’ve spent more time with my friends and family than I have on a treadmill or yoga mat.
  7. I have the strength to go up stairs and hills without getting winded.
  8. My energy level is much more consistent and I have more get-up-and-go than I have had in my whole life, even before the ED.
  9. I have learned to relax my standards a bit more, even though it is uncomfortable to do so.
  10. My hair is crazy soft… and not brittle at all.
  11. I’ve spent less time at home, and more time exploring the world.
  12. I frequently have conversations that don’t revolve around food, weight, or shape… and I can pay attention and remember having them.
  13. I can have a bite of pizza without counting it as a snack or meal.
  14. I have more patience and more compassion for those around me.
  15. I’ve stopped mumbling, “Fuck you!” under my breath every time I saw someone genuinely happy.
  16. I’m not trapped in a specific exercise cycle, with a specific route, for a specific amount of time, EVERY SINGLE DAY, until I die.
  17. I can’t remember the last time I specifically set my alarm clock earlier to fit in a work out.
  18. I can’t remember the last time I did sit ups, weights, or pilates at 2 am.
  19. I’ve carved out a niche and found a great love for blogging, which I never could do when I couldn’t sit long enough to open a browser window.
  20. I’ve fostered relationships that fill the gap in my spirits to replace the one in my thighs, and that never would have had a chance to grow had I not stopped moving.
  21. I have a figure that allows my boyfriend to hold me without fear of breaking me.
  22. I can wear shorts again.  Both in terms of temperature, and in terms of acceptance.
  23. I’ve begun to view my “unforgiveable” past choices, simply as choices.  They don’t speak to who I am now, or who I will, or can become.
  24. My body does not determine my worth, value, or integrity as a person.
  25. I’ve begun to do things regardless of the fear there is in doing them.  I push myself to not stand in my own way.
  26. I don’t take life so seriously.  One choice, one day, one hour, one meal, or one conversation does not a life sentence make.
  27. I’ve shared my deepest and darkest secrets… and was met by only love and support.
  28. I’ve become more literate on the many ways society is more flawed than I am.
  29. I’ve laughed more, seen more, and done more than I ever did when my pants fit.
  30. Basically, I’ve learned how to live, and lived a life worth living.

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And that is worth so much more than my pant size.  So in the end, it really comes down to:

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Normal is Disordered: Reframing the Size Bias

Hello all!  How have you been?

My week has been crazy.  It’s the middle of summer, and we’re approaching a long weekend where I live, which is typically the busiest two weeks of the year here.  It’s great for our economy, as I live in a tourist town that relies on the sizzling hot summer months to survive, but it makes work a gong show! Plus, we’ve been having so many issues with people calling in sick, breaking ribs, altering schedules, etc in my department, that that just adds to the hectic nature of summer, and not in a positive way.

I’m one of those people that, when I decide to do a job or am employed to do a job, I do it to the best of my ability… call it my perfectionist/fear of making a mistake or failing bias, but it works quite well in the workplace.  I mean minus the fact that it usually stresses me out more than it should.  The boyfriend always says to me, “You did what you could, and honestly they don’t pay you enough to care the amount that you do.  The way you worry about things is the equivalent that the manager worries about things… and they certainly don’t pay you the same.  It’s not your job to worry about all these things, and it’s not worth the amount that it stresses you out.”

True.  So true.  But I have such a perfectionistic bias!

AND, it translates to my mood, because I’ve been like that for as long as I can remember.  The idea that you only half-assed do things just doesn’t compute in my brain, so when I go to work and see people putting in minimal effort, calling in sick when they are NOT SICK, and/or just not giving a shit or dogging it, it pisses me off.  Like, ridiculously so.  You can ask the boyfriend about this… he’s experienced it personally.  And in his oh-so-logical mind, he says to me, “You can’t let other’s emotions, actions, or sentiments influence you so much.  Just because they’re not doing something doesn’t mean that it needs to impact you.  No one will come back and attack you for not getting something done… it’s their head on the line, not yours.  THIS is why you are so stressed all the time!”

Oh, rational brain, why do you not function so simply!  These things logically make sense, but they still do not compute.  I have a bias… and it is a blessing and a curse.  I find myself SO OFTEN lately playing this game:

Okay, rant over.

At least on that guy… but I’m here today to talk about another bias that’s been getting on my nerves lately.

Yeah… you know the one I’m talking about.  That whole size bias thing.

Side note:  This movie is the best!! I mentioned in my last post how this was and still is my favourite movie of all time.  I’ve seen it a million times and I never hesitate to see it again.  And it’s just so great for those moments where you just need a good quote 😉.

See, I’ve started this new body image/self esteem coaching program, and while I’ve been so reluctant to do MORE therapy, I new I’d hit a wall.  You can’t be okay with listening to your body to tell you what you need in terms of food and exercise unless you trust your body.  And you can’t trust your body until you believe your body is worth trusting.  And you can’t believe in your body’s own worth until you believe in your own self worth.  And you can’t have a sense of self worth until you start to have some self esteem and respect for yourself emotionally and mentally.  And you can’t do that until you believe in yourself enough that you give yourself permission to take up literal/physical and mental/emotional space in your own life.

Long story short:  You can’t hope to be intuitive and move past an eating disorder until you believe you are enough, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  You have to accept your existence not as a hindrance to the world but rather as an asset.

Anyways… it’s pretty intense.  I’m spending more than an hour every day actively writing and working through my thought patterns and body image issues.  And while I’m still trying to get the hang of putting new neural pathways into action and remembering to do things differently than my current rut, at least this delving into exploration gets my brain going and thinking about things both in my past and in my present in ways I haven’t really examined before.

I’m basically one step away from growing out my armpit hair and living in a tree, one with nature…

Actually not really.

But it’s gotten me thinking.  A lot of this work has to do with reframing the way you look at things.  Not stopping thoughts, not judging yourself for having thoughts, but also not giving your thoughts the power to shape who you are and how you live your life in a day to day fashion.  I don’t remember the context, but in my first therapy session I was asked a question to which I responded quite simply, “because normal, nowadays in modern society, is disordered.”

How true is this?  And how screwed up is that?

And by taking a step back from my own life, and my own head, I’m able to observe this more objectively and see this truth in action:

  1. A non-eating-disordered woman I know, talking to my boyfriend who was frustrated with my obsession with thigh gaps, said simply, “I don’t blame her.  I’d love to have a thigh gap.”

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    image source (side note: it’s actually brilliant!)

  2. They build strollers SPECIFICALLY for running with your baby… as if running around looking after your baby was not enough activity for a woman.

    bugaboo-ad-main

    image source (side note: who the HELL dresses like that to go for a run, much less with your baby?!)

  3. Recipes are no longer focussed on flavour but rather on numbers:
    recipetitlescrewy

    Before —-> After

     

  4. An Oreo is no longer a mid-afternoon treat, but rather a workout guideline:

    bwjrypdieaegb0y

    image source (Side note: Who, in their RIGHT, RATIONAL state of mind, eats only one oreo? Unless you’re pairing the oreo with a golden oreo…)

  5. Witnessed personally: A starving hospitalized non-eating disordered woman who hasn’t eaten in over 24 hours refuses to eat food unless it is one of her packaged diet foods from the current crash diet plan being followed.

  6. You can’t walk into a restaurant without being blatantly greeted by nutritional information, that was unsolicited by you in the first place:
    gtres66

    image source (Starbucks… it wasn’t even on the leaflet, but displayed instead)

    breakfast_sandwich_board-490

    image source (Side Note:  This was Panera… and the funny thing was the website the image came from titled it “I’m on a diet and I can’t have a bowl of soup!”.  #modernlifeinanutshell)

Man I could think of so many more options, but this just gets too lengthy.  The funny thing is modern society is screwed.  This is DISORDERED!  I gave you six plus examples of these things that are considered “acceptable” if not “healthful” practices in modern society, WHICH, if I personally engaged in any one of them, would be told I was engaging in eating disordered behaviour.

I’m sorry, but if it’s DISORDERED for me, is it not DISORDERED for everyone?

And where do all these things come from?  It is often lumped under the assumption that you are engaging in these behaviours in an attempt to be “healthier”, but then what is your definition of “healthy”?

If a person who is naturally built larger, whose body wants to be what society would normally deem “overweight”, engages in all of these behaviours, chances are eventually, their weight would still be “overweight”.  Because that is where their body naturally wants to be according to set-point theory! And that person goes to the doctor, for a bladder infection… and the first thing the doctor says is, you need to lose weight if you want to be healthy.

Excuse me, but how is this related to the problem at hand, a bladder infection?  The person didn’t even come there for weight loss advice!

The person says, “Look, I run every day.  I eat lower calorie foods, whole grains, low sugar, and vegetables.  I count everything and make sure that my calories in equal my calories out, but I can’t seem to lose weight.”

Without even running blood tests, or cardio tests, or what have you to determine the actual “health” of the body, we’ve already determined that the person needs to lose weight.

When you yourself go to the coffee shop and order a skinny, or fat-free latte, and claim that you’re doing it for “health”, ask yourself, what does “health” mean?

If you can close your eyes and picture yourself at your healthy self goal, what does that self look like?

Does your “healthy self” equal ripped abs, and a long and lean physique? Do your thighs not touch?  Is your cellulite gone?

Yep.  So let’s stop the delusion.  The issue is not “health”… the issue is SIZE, WEIGHT, and the associated bias that goes along with it.  The idea is that you are worth more if you take up less space.  The idea is that skinny > fat, that skinny people are happier, healthier, stronger, more driven, more desireable, more attractive, more loved, more accepted… basically they’re just more.

They are more, because they are less.

What an oxymoron?!

I remember when I was little, I always had a large appetite, but I was never overweight.  I was always pretty lean.  I used to eat the same amount as the hockey jocks in high school, and one slice of pizza was never enough to satisfy me, even when I was 6 or 7.  People would joke that I eat SO MUCH, and I used to feel pride and joke right along with them.

I used to be a size 0 or 2, and then when I became a 4 or 6, I was actually proud that I was growing and becoming less of a child and more of a woman.

Somewhere along the line, this changed.

Somewhere along the line, whenever I ate as much, or more of than my boyfriend it became less of a joke, and more of a source of guilt, shame, and anxiety, because a rule was created that girls should not eat as much as guys.

Somewhere along the line, if I ate 2 or 3 slices of pizza, it became not about satisfying my hunger and cravings, but rather about eating the lesser amount because a rule was created that girls should (based on observation of others) only eat one slice of pizza, and pair it with a salad.

Somewhere along the line, advertising and the bandwagon taught me that a latte had to be skinny, and that I should feel guilty for enjoying my coffee with a non-sugar-free flavour shot and actual milk.

Somewhere along the line, I learned that cake and cookies should be enjoyed in secret, and that the 8th deadly sin was a love of peanut butter cups.

Somewhere along the line, I learned that “healthy” people swapped their pasta for zoodles, and their rice for cauliflower.

Somewhere along the line, I no longer felt proud of my size 4, or more often 6 frame that was curvy and womanly, but ashamed because it wasn’t closer to a negative number.  Somewhere along the line, I threw out the notion of womanly curves in favour of the teenage boy gangly look that accompanies a restrictive diet and the loss of body shape and boobs… all because somewhere along the line I accepted the notion that two became the new four, and zero became the new two, and six became the new fourteen.

 

We’re a generation that is expected to be able to DO more, while running on LESS.  We’re supposed to get more in touch with our “hunter gatherer roots”, and serve it with an aspartame filled fizzy drink.  We’re confused.  We have too much knowledge, and too little perspective.

Because if we stopped with the high powered craziness for ten seconds, and stopped running a mile a minute, accepting ideas willy-nilly because we don’t have the time to stop and think about it before internalizing, we would realize that none of this makes sense!

You cannot do more while taking in less.  I cannot be on my feet at my job, for 8 plus hours, come home and make dinner, and go for a bike ride afterwards while eating zoodles and diet coke.

You cannot compare the amount of satisfaction you get from a real chocolate fudge brownie, with the “healthy” plant-based black bean, Splenda sweetened 56 calories a piece one.  Yep… one pan later, and I’m just as lethargic as before and my chocolate craving is still there.

An oreo is not equal to 1200 jumping jacks any more than a romance novel is equal to a llama, or my left butt cheek is equal to my elbow.  You can’t equate two totally different things!  Plus, imma enjoy my oreo, but I’m not gonna enjoy 1200 jumping jacks.  That pleasure factor is significant!

You’re going to make more memories playing peek-a-boo with your baby and hearing him/her laugh, than you will jogging with them in a bikini. AND if you’re like me you’ll be much less likely to end up with road rash from tripping over something… although, you might accidentally poke yourself in the eye.

We talk about health in terms of weight… but we seem to not notice that the size bias that is running rampant through all our heads, and the associated disordered notions that accompany it, is making us the most miserable and habitually depressed and unsatisfied generation ever.

We have less patience/tolerance of others, less connection to our hunger/fullness cues, less connection to other people (because we’re too obsessed with diet/exercise/technology), less sense of belonging, drive, motivation, contentment… all because we’re HUNGRY.  And I don’t mean hungry just for food, but hungry for balance and a sense of calm that you can only get when you stop trying to be MORE, and do MORE all the time.  Hungry for all the connection with others and relationships that you’re missing out on because you are never stopping.

And it gets us into a vicious cycle… because we’re bombarded by this size bias and are convinced that we would be happier by being thinner.  We’d be more accepted, more loved, more driven, more motivated.  But trust me, if thinness made you happier when I was literally lying in the hospital on my death bed I should have been the happiest person on earth.  Needless to say, I’ve never been more miserable in my life… except when I was trying to RUN while in this deathly ill state.  I was more miserable then because I was in more physical pain than you could ever believe.

It’s time to address the real issue, which is not your weight, shape, or size.  It is your relationship with yourself, and the world around you.  It is your need to fill only one facet of your life (diet/food, body shape/fitness), and ignoring all the rest.  It is a lack of balance.  It’s the acceptance of all of these DISORDERED notions, as NORMAL.

It’s the fact that you’re allowing zero to be the new two, two to be the new four, and six to be the new  fourteen.  It’s the fact that you’re allowing the calorie count to be the deciding factor rather than your tastebuds, and the treadmill to dictate whether you can spend time with your friends at a coffee shop later.  It’s not make you healthier, and it’s not improving your value or worth.

It’s time to stop buying it.

It’s time to go back to your roots and reframe the bias that you’ve been trained to accept.

It’s time to look in the mirror and instead of condemning your love handles, appreciating your womanly curves.

It’s about making the choice when buying new clothes and having to go up a size, to allow it to be the beginning of a new relationship with another stage of your life instead of the beginning of another crash diet.

It’s about eating an oreo for a snack without reading the label, and then eating another if you weren’t satisfied.  And trusting that eventually you will be, and your body will let you know when you are.

It’s about going for coffee with a friend and ordering a cookie to share, even if you’ve already eaten, because it ADDS to the experience and the memories, not to you your hips.

It’s about changing your vocabulary when it comes to food, taking out all the “skinnys”, “cleans”, “cheats”, or whatever other judgements you make, and allowing only flavours, textures, and cravings to make your decisions.

AND it’s about doing all these things and not thinking you’re being LAZY, LACKING WILLPOWER, or being a GLUTTON for doing them.  

Because normal is disordered… but who ever wanted to be normal anyways?

A Cliff Notes Version of Escaping Rock Bottom

So what happens when you get stuck?  We’ve all had those moments of feeling completely defeated.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re suffering from an eating disorder, or whether you simply feel lost and directionless in your life.  Whether you’re struggling to get back on track after a relapse, or whether you’re simply just drained- emotionally, physically, mentally, whatever it may be.  You feel, for one reason or another, like you’ve hit rock bottom.  You’re at the foot of a wall, and you can’t figure out quite how to scale it.

It sucks.

And we’ve all been there.

One of the things you notice, especially in an ED recovery world, is that many times people fall.  A recovery that is relapse free is a rarity, not a norm.  It’s normal to struggle.  The defining part is what you decide to do when you find yourself once again back at the bottom of the Totem pole.  The amount of times I’ve seen cries out into the blogosphere, after extended periods of inactivity, saying, “I don’t know what to do!  I feel so defeated, so enchained once again in the ED grasp!  Therapy isn’t working for me, I’m scared to start eating normally again, and all I can see when I look at myself is huge.”… yeah, it’s more than I can count.  And my heart bleeds every time I see this.  I’ve been there.  I know what it’s like.

For me, relapse was worse, or at least harder MENTALLY, than the first time around.  When you enter recovery for the first time, it’s kind of a Chucky version of sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.  Yes, you’re terrified, but you don’t know what comes out of recovery because you’ve never been through it.  You get to the point where the professionals take everything out of your hands, and you have this obscure promise of normalcy.  Something like, “Oh thank God, they’re going to show me how to eat, exercise, AND be normal, AND maintain my weight, AND not go through this hell ever again.  And then I’ll be able to leave it all behind me.”

And that hope pushes you through.  But when you go through it, you realize it’s its own kind of hell.  And when you climb so far up the ladder, only to find yourself once again at the bottom in the depths of a relapse, it is 100 times harder to find the oomph and the drive to try to climb back out again.  You’ve seen part of the other side, and it wasn’t as sunny as you thought.  The grass wasn’t necessarily greener, but rather just a different species of grass.  When I got down to the bottom again, I didn’t know if I wanted to climb back out again.  I didn’t know if it was worth it.

But if you send out that plea into the blogosphere, that cry for help, it’s because you haven’t completely given up hope.  You acknowledge that it might not be perfect, but it has to be better than what current is.  You just don’t know where to start.

It’s been years.  YEARS for me.  And I still struggle, on a day to day, minute to minute basis.  But as I have read these cries for help, I find I’m often asking myself:

If I was there again, what are the most important things I wish I would have known? When it all comes down to it, what are the bare essentials that would have really and truly helped me to get out on the right foot?  What would have made that wall a little easier to scale?  Where would I have liked to have started?

Hence, I decided to make this list.  This list is for anyone.  Of course, it is tailored for someone who struggles with self acceptance, anxiety, and an eating disorder, but really I believe it’s a list that anyone who feels defeated could use from time to time.  The points in it are things we all should bear in mind.

So here we go:

Drumroll please…

THE CLIFF NOTES VERSION OF ESCAPING ROCK BOTTOM

1) TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR OWN SANITY.

This one is a huge one for me.  I truly believe that every situation can be a learning experience, but sometimes the learning is brief and to the point.  How many times have you made a mistake, quit, or “failed” at something, and then been asked by someone else (in a condescending “I know better” way, or a truly compassionate loving way) “What did you learn from this experience?”.  Stop looking at all those things that didn’t work out perfectly as mistakes, or failures.  Realize that it served a purpose, and sometimes that purpose wasn’t to teach you what you WANTED, but rather to show you what you DIDN’T WANT.  I choose to look at recovery the same way.  Relapse is a chance to let you know what doesn’t work for you, and show you that whatever process you were following before doesn’t click with you in one way or another.

I’ve worked with a number of therapists, a number of doctors, and a number of dieticians.  Some of those meetings and sessions were complete and total busts.  Some of them caused more problems than they solved.  And some of them worked for a bit, but then they didn’t work anymore.  And all of that is okay.  All of them taught me one thing or another… either a skill set, or a mindset, or simply showed me what I DIDN’T want my recovery to look like.  They key thing was, I refused to settle for something that only kind of worked, or for something that didn’t work at all.  I didn’t look at the passing of another dietitian or doctor as a failure on my part, or a sign that there was something inherently wrong with ME.  There is nothing WRONG with ME.

What’s your drink of choice?  Mine’s a grande Starbucks iced coffee frappuccino, half sweet with cinnamon dolce flavouring, soy milk, no whip, and a sprinkle of cinnamon dolce spice mix on top.  Say it five times fast, and try to get all components of that right when you’re ordering it (or rather when they’re making it).  My mom’s is a grande half-caf americano, non sweet, with just a bit of room for a a touch of cream.  My boyfriend doesn’t even like coffee, save Tim’s iced caps, but you’ll often see him with a Dad’s Rootbeer.  None of us are the same, and we all have our own unique brews.  If we’re allowed to have our own unique favourite drinks, we’re also allowed to have our own unique mixture of treatments that work for us.  And you’re worth enough to keep looking and looking until you find what works for you.  Play around, and don’t look at another ended session as a failure… look at it as an opportunity to identify the things you don’t want.  Look online, find in person sessions, but also find other’s who are willing to work via Skype from all parts of the world.  Look for discounted rates, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  A lot of people are willing to work with you and work around you.  You do you.

2) COME TO TERMS WITH YOUR CATALYST.

This is a mixed one, because everyone’s experience is different.  I’ve met so many people through my recovery, and no two descents into the diet/self hatred mentality look the same.  Some people have had a messed up relationship with food, exercise, and/or their body for as long as they can remember.  Some people can’t actually remember a time when they weren’t trying to look different than they naturally did, were dieting, or actually felt comfortable in their own skin.  I feel like I can relate in some way, shape, or form, to this, as I grew up always thinking I wasn’t good enough, or that I could do and be better.  This wasn’t always food or body related for me however, but I was never comfortable in my own skin.  From the moment we had to start changing for PE class in school, somewhere around grade 2 or 3 I’m guessing, I remember consciously sucking my stomach in so that I would have the illusion of being slimmer than I was.  I don’t know what spurred this, I honestly don’t.  But even then, it never really impacted my eating, or my exercise.  My love of food, and hatred of exercise still trumped that.  Regardless of what you can or can’t remember, I’d venture to say that everyone does have a definitive moment that sticks out in their mind as the time a “switch” went off.  It might not be the first moment, but it’s a moment that took you from being somewhat okay, or functioning, to NOT functioning, NOT being okay, and being DESPERATE to change.

For me, this was when my best friend in high school came over to my house a year or so after graduation with a Christmas present.  We’d always been the same size (minus my D cups to her I’m guessing B’s), and the whole time I knew her, I always thought she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever known, inside and out.  I opened the present alone in my room later, and it was a gorgeous red dress.  I hastily took off my clothes and tried to shimmy into the little number, and suddenly it didn’t fit anymore.  We were no longer the same size.  I couldn’t wear the same size dress as her.  At the time I was already feeling low, depressed, and down on myself for other, non body related reasons, but for me, this event sticks out in my mind as the catalyst, the “switch flipped” moment where I decided to actively instead of passively loathe myself, my body, and do everything in my power to change it.

After YEARS of work, and YEARS of struggles, I am now starting to come to terms with my body.  I’m starting to be okay with it.  I’m not yet at the point of loving it, and at times I’m far from it, but I’m now at a point where I can look back on that catalyst, that moment in time, with something other than anxiety, guilt, shame, and regret.  For once in my life, I can look back on that moment and not wish to change it, but rather I can feel sorrow and compassion for 20 year old me.  I look back, I accept that it happened, I don’t long that it went differently, but I want to wrap my arms around my former self, hug her, and tell her that it sucks that you feel this way, but it’s okay.  You’re okay.  You’re fine.  You are worth more than this moment and this dress.

I have finally made peace with this moment, and most of the other moments in my life that I blamed, or looked back on with guilt, shame, and regret for where they got me.  I’ve made peace with the people that have impacted my life in a negative way.  I’ve made peace with my mom’s alcoholism, my dad’s dementia, the family members that told me I wasn’t good enough, the people that made me believe that my only value was my smarts, or my body.  I don’t love those moments.  I don’t necessarily forgive them.  I just accept them, and leave them where they are.  They shaped me, in good ways and bad, but they don’t need to be rehashed any more.  They don’t need to be a part of my current or my future.

Clean the slate.  Feel the pain, grieve a little, then find acceptance and compassion for that moment, or those moment(s) that stick out in your mind.  The catalysts.  The memories.  And then leave them behind.

3) SEPARATE YOUR FEELINGS FROM YOUR FLAB.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not much for fluff.  I gag at “You can do it!” type mantras, and things that fall along the lines of sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and perfect realities.  So the idea of writing an acrostic of feelings was a little too Hello Kitty, Minnie Mouse for my liking…

Side note: To all those I offended by insulting either Hello Kitty or Minnie Mouse, I apologize.  I assure you no bobble-heads, keychains, or stuffed animals were harmed in the making of this post.

BUT, I reluctantly listened to my dietitian because she and my ideologies of what recovery should look like are THE SAME, and I have massive amounts of gratitude and respect for her.  I did the acrostic.  And I instantly shed my diet mentality, loved my body, and have a new lease on life.

Burst! 

Peanut butter brownie points for anyone who can pinpoint what awesome book that’s from!

Okay, no.  It didn’t work like that.  No sunshine and rainbows remember.  BUT, it did remind me that when I claim, like many others, “I feel FAT!” or “All I see is CELLULITE”, I am quite possibly and probably equating my feelings with my physique and flab.  FAT and CELLULITE, are NOUNS, not adjectives.  You feel EMOTIONS, which are ADJECTIVES.  You don’t feel fat.  You feel something else, which is making you SEE fat, cellulite, or whatever else makes you feel uncomfortable.  Take a few minutes out of your day, ideally when you are in the midst of a triggering/stressful situation, and check out what emotions are actually coming up for you.  A neat way to do this is to use your “word of choice” which for many is FAT, or CELLULITE, as the basis of an emotional acrostic.  It’ll remind you of reality as opposed to the probably screwed perspective of yourself you’re experiencing.  Mine turned up something like this:

IMG_4120

4) FORGET THE BURN.  FIND THE FUN.

A list of sayings I once felt guilty to hate, but now unapologetically loathe:

  • Just do it.
  • No pain, no gain.
  • If you’re not first, you’re last.
  • Strong is the new skinny.
  • Sweat like a pig to look like a fox.
  • That’s not sweat on your face, it’s fat crying.
  • What you eat in private, you wear in public.
  • Sweat once a day.
  • You’re not going to get the butt you want by sitting on the one you have.
  • Everyone has to do things they don’t want to do.

Don’t get me wrong, moving your body is important.  Using the muscles you were born with, giving them the chance to engage and disengage, and literally carry you through your life, is something we all need to do.  BUT, there is a difference between moving your body because it’s important TO YOU and because you FIND JOY IN IT, and moving your body out of a sense of DUTY, GUILT, and OBLIGATION.  Because believe it or not, if you’re doing something that causes you mental and physical anguish and stress, you’re probably overriding the health benefits of it.

Take me for example.  When I was in the depths of anorexia my heart rate was predictably and expectedly low.  Too low.  I went through the process of weight restoration and once I was, from a strict weight and BMI standpoint “healthy”, my heart rate was no longer low… in fact, at times it was quite high.  Higher than it should be at a resting state.  Many doctors said that it was a complication from a strain on my heart because the muscle had been so weakened.  I’m not negating this possibility, but I will say that their solution, exercising the muscle to strengthen it, was UNPREDICTABLY unhelpful.  I got to the point where I weighed more than I had ever in my life (still a “healthy” weight by all generic means), and I was exercising for at least an hour or two a day, plenty of cardio AND strength training, yet my heart rate was still higher than you would expect given my level of consumption and muscle at times.

What was going on?

The prescribed solution?  Keep up the sweat.  What solution actually worked for me?  Relapse.

Haha.  Kidding. But that is what eventually happened.  The “healthy” lifestyle I had cultivated was completely UNSUSTAINABLE.  Why?  Because I LOATHED every minute.  I spent my time obsessing over getting the food I needed to prevent a relapse, struggling to cultivate a body shape that I was not meant to have, and exercising for ultimate “health”, all while waking up in the morning anticipant of bedtime in 16 hours when I would again have reprieve from the hell I was in.  I laced up my gym shoes for hours a day, sweated it out, pushed myself harder and harder, all while staying under the quoted “13 hour a week” maximum for “health”, but I wasn’t experiencing any of the health benefits I was striving for.  Mentally, mind mind was constantly racing, and I wasn’t present or in the moment with my life.  Physically, my muscles were toned and strong, but they also ached and at times spasmed when I got up from a resting position to the point where I almost/did fall over.  Emotionally, I was drained and dreading every minute.  And my heart rate spent a good chunk of time higher than it should have been.  Why?  STRESS!

And then I gave up.  I gave in.  Anorexia was easier.  Deprivation caused pain, and anguish, and suffering, but so did this.  And what I found, upon relapse, and then recovery again, was that when I was relaxed… mentally and physically, my actual level of health and wellness was far better than it was when I was “sweating it out, and making the fat cry”.

The truth is:  you don’t have to have sweat, feel the “burn”, or put yourself in aerobic states and pain to achieve HEALTH.  Your mental AND physical health depend greatly on your level of psychological wellness, and if your “exercise” is impeding that, you’re probably doing yourself a vast disservice.

But like I said, movement is still important.  I’m not calling out here saying that it’s perfectly healthy and fine to lay around on the couch all day.  No.  You were gifted with the muscles you have, and you owe it to them to allow them to do their jobs.  BUT, that doesn’t mean you have to go through hell.  If exercise is HELL, then STOP.

Take a breath.

Pain DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL gain.  Sweat DOESN’T NEED TO HAPPEN for exercise to be worthwhile.  Sitting on your butt DOES NOT MEAN you’ll store fat there.  Exercise IS NOT WORTH your quality of life and mental wellness.  AND if you’re exercising, to achieve a certain body type, weight, or shape, realize that your goal is thinness, not health or wellness.

So what should you do?

  • Change your vocabulary.  Remove the word EXERCISE and replace it with MOVEMENT.  Think about it… what emotions do you feel when you hear the word exercise?  What emotions do you feel when you hear the word movement?  Is there a difference?
  • Set yourself parameters.  Are you a paid athlete?  Do you do this for a living?  If not, you don’t need to exist at the gym, or spend hours pounding the pavement.  You have more important shit to do.  Believe it or not, even ten minutes of activity still has a positive affect on your body.  I’m sick of those people that state you MUST do x amount of activity for it to be worth it.  If you do two minutes of yoga and feel like a rockstar, then I’d say you’re two minutes richer than you were before.
  • AND THE MOST IMPORTANT:  FIND THE JOY.  I have spent… hang on, I’m… 24. Okay, 23.9999999 years of my life thinking that this was a sort of pot of gold at the end of the rainbow kind of concept.  A fantastical ideal that doesn’t actually exist for me.  I was CONVINCED beyond a shadow of a doubt, and ashamed to admit, I FRICKEN LOATHED ACTIVITY.  I could not find anything that was movement that I could do that I didn’t feel obligation in doing.  Everything I did, I did because I felt like I SHOULD do it, and the activity that I have gravitated to in this second attempt at recovery was those things that I didn’t hate as much, or that in a moment of inexplicable clarity found a sense of calmness doing, even though it was only for like 2 minutes out of 30.  AND THEN… about a month ago my boyfriend decided he was going to help me learn how to ride a bike.  Yes, laugh.  24 and I had no idea… even I laughed at that.   But I’d tried stationary bikes and that was just as much, if not more hell, than a treadmill… so I hadn’t exactly been chomping at the bit.  My expectations were low.  The first two weeks of constant start-stops and bails, complete right leg bruises, and one internal contusion on my ribs later that I apparently still have to wait another 4 weeks more to heal and be severe pain free… yeah they were disgruntling.  They were hellish.  They were frustrating.  BUT one day… I flew.  That’s the best word I have for it… I felt like I was flying.  I felt overcome with legitimate joy as I sped down the street.  And now not a day goes by that I don’t want to get on the bike… and while ED likes to try to stick his claws in, the initial desire is 100% me.  I couldn’t go yesterday and I actually MISSED it.  It’s possible to find JOY IN MOVEMENT! And that’s the movement you want to stick to.

5) TEMPORARILY REMOVE THE WORD “BUT” FROM YOUR VOCABULARY.

A little act of self care for yourself.  This kind of goes along the lines of the “Just Do it” mentality.  How many times have you had someone say to you, “You did a great job, but if you just worked a little harder you’d be perfect!”?  How many times have you received a compliment, and said, “Thanks, but I could have done better.”?  How many times did you get second place, BUT instead of rejoicing in that followed it up with, “But it wasn’t first.” ? It’s important to not be arrogant, self righteous or conceited, but a lot of the time the so called “positive” quality of “being humble” is a breeding ground for self depreciation, shame, and negativity.  This step is all about being grateful for the good things, and allowing yourself to take credit for the positives and things you have achieved.  Remove the word “but” from your vocabulary.  It works in so many situations!

  • I made it three days without restricting/binging but then I ate half a cheesecake
  • A coworker gives you a compliment on how well you did training a new employee. Your response: “Thank you, but it’s no big deal.”  Just say thank you.
  • I exercised for twenty minutes, but it wasn’t enough.
  • I had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for the first time in years, but it had way too many calories.

You get the idea.  Stop discounting the positives.

6) BE REAL, GET ANGRY, AND SWEAR A BIT.

I’d have to argue that perhaps the number one way to guarantee your own unhappiness and lack of fulfilment is to pretend to be different, or be apologetic, for who you inherently are.  This is about all those times that you said to yourself, I have to dress a certain way, act a certain way, or think a certain way, to be accepted/not mocked by others.  It’s about all those times that you forced yourself into a mold to “fit in”, and all the times you felt ashamed to be different than others. Why? Because it’s unsustainable, and eventually something is going to give- either it’s you deciding it’s not worth it anymore, or it’s your mental and emotional wellbeing.  It’s like asking a cat to be a dog, although cats are not that stupid as to even try.  It just doesn’t work.

Speaking of cats, if you asked a cat to be a dog, chances are the cat would look at you in that way that you are 100% sure says, “Screw you.”  Cats are good at getting testy.  Whatever struggles you are going through, be it an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, addiction, or simply not feeling good enough, it is important to get testy yourself sometimes.  Get angry at your struggles rather than be consumed and defeated by them.  Your mind is you, and therefore you are the master of your own mind.  It kind of goes along with the idea of my last post.  Screw you.  Do you feel like a brownie?  Did you eat a big dinner, but are still hungry?  Does the eating disorder want you to eat an apple instead, or stop eating?  If it does, get angry.  Say, screw you!  Did someone tell you you should lose a few pounds?  Screw you!  Did someone try to give you “advice” because they care about you, that instead made you feel unworthy, unloved, or not good enough?  Screw them!  Are you tired of listening to all these external rules about how you should look, or who you should be?  Screw the rules!  YOU are in charge of YOU.  No one else is, and nothing else matters.  If people can’t accept you for who you are, YOU deserve better.

And that last one… nope, I’m not joking.  I am 100% literal here.  I come from a religious family, and I grew up with my grandmother who, if she heard you utter a foul word, was not hesitant to stick a bar of soap in your mouth with a vengeance.  And I still don’t swear as a general rule in most situations, but sometimes the best way to release things is to utter some choice expletives.  Now, I don’t necessarily mean go up to everyone that has ever said something hurtful to you and wail on them.  No.  I also don’t mean forget all sense of public decency and start rattling off the expletives willy-nilly.  Be sensitive to others, and respectful that not everyone wants to HEAR that kind of language.  However, a well placed curse word, often if only uttered to yourself, has the potential to trigger a great sense of release and empowerment.  And it also helps with that, get angry, bit. 🙂

7) STOP SEARCHING FOR LOVE.

This is an odd one, especially since we’re in the age of online dating, blind dates, and Dr. Phil.  Stop jumping from relationship to relationship.  Stop basing your worth and value as a person on whether you have a significant other.  Realize the power, and liberation, of being alone.  Realize that you don’t need to be WITH someone, in order to BE someone.  And most importantly, don’t let the fear of never finding someone keep you from being your true self, or keep you stuck in toxic relationships, be it friendships or romantic relationships.

When you’re seeing someone, be you.  Don’t be the person you THINK they want you to be.  It might work in the short term, but a relationship based in smoke and mirrors isn’t sustainable and will eventually have negative ramifications.  When you are you, when you are unapologetically real, the right person will find you.  I truly believe that love finds you when you stop looking and start living.  And if you’re not in a relationship at the moment, it means it’s not your time to be in one.  You find love in unexpected places, at unexpected times, and if you’re being real and true, you’ll be rewarded.  Stop searching, start living.

8) DETOXIFY YOUR LIFE.

Seriously though, I hesitated to tell you about this because it kind of goes against everything I said about food freedom… but I found this miracle detox plan that literally is the bee’s knees.  No I’m not kidding!  It’s a relatively new detox program that helps you shed pounds and cleanse your organs from all those evil little carbohydrate and fat monkeys that are wreaking havoc internally from your unhealthy food and lifestyle choices.  It’s an extract that they’ve taken from the knees of bees, specifically a species of bee indigenous to South America… see I said literally!  They’ve put these extracts into these smoothie-like drinks that you consume for one week straight.  Nothing else!  Just these smoothies, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  They’re a miracle cure, with relatively low incidences of complications, and only 3/10 chance of fatality!

… Yeah.  Screw that.

Did I have you going there?

NO!  I will NEVER recommend a detox cleanse, unless it is MEDICALLY PRESCRIBED by a doctor on an individual basis.  BUT, I’ll definitely speak volumes on social media detox and cleansing!  It sounds corny, but I swear to you it works.  Detoxify your social media, and remove all accounts that you follow related to “Thinspo”, “Fitspo”, unrealistic (AKA typical) body ideals, specific diets (yes paleo, yes gluten-free, yes vegan, yes raw- unless you are medically required to eat this way, you don’t need this), and any other feeds that cause you shame, guilt, anxiety, or a desire to manipulate or control your weight, shape, size, or personality.   You don’t need that shit.  Instead, fill your feed with images of REAL women/men, REAL people…

Side note: Some people are NATURALLY slim, toned or what have you. I’m not implying they’re not real. I’m simply saying don’t buy into those things that are completely digitally altered and airbrushed.

And fill your feed with other ideas- places you want to see, things you want to do, inspiring quotes, balanced food and exercise examples (i.e. everything, no rules), HAES (Health at Every Size), etc. The more you expose yourself to the things that matter, and to health and wellness ideas, the less the other stuff will matter. It really does work.

The same goes for your relationships. Go through your Facebook friends, and delete people you haven’t talked to in twenty years, or those people who make you feel like crap about yourself. Stop spending time with those who are negatively impacting you, and who don’t value you for who you are. It’s not a contest. No one has 700 actual friends, online or in real life.

 

9) GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO TAKE UP SPACE

In all manners of the word.  Being smaller doesn’t make you worth more, any more than being larger makes you worth less.  I know for me, there’s a sense of unworthiness, a lack of value, and it makes me feel like I need to be smaller.  I don’t feel like I deserve to take up emotional space- I don’t want to share my fears, my problems, my worries, and take up others time.  I don’t feel like I deserve to take up airspace.  Another one of those toted “positive” qualities of ALWAYS putting others before oneself… yeah, at times, it’s bull.  You deserve airspace.  You deserve to be listened to, to sometimes get to pick the activity, to have wants, desires, cravings.  You deserve to come first at times.  You deserve to have a day to yourself where you do exactly what YOU want and need to do for your own health and wellbeing.  If you don’t allow yourself to take up space, if you constantly squash yourself for others, or allow others to squash you, you will eventually crumble.  And perhaps, this sense of being small, this sense of being not worth anything and being half a person, will translate to you literally starving yourself to be ACTUALLY half a person.  Who knows.  Just a thought.

You’re allowed to take up space, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  Your curves are allowed to exist, your cellulite is allowed to exist, and your mind is allowed to exist.  Allow yourself to take your rightful place in the world.

Exercise or Exorcise?

Hello from a rather comfortable table in a very crowded cafe!

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So I’m feeling kind of guilty.

I mean I haven’t written in a while, which is an issue of itself. But it isn’t for lack of attempts… if you could log on to my laptop you would find at least 15 or 20 partially written and scrapped blog posts. I just didn’t know what to say, what to write, what I wanted to focus on. Two hours of work… then two seconds to the trash can. Nothing was coming together.

I recently got back from two days of travelling, eating out, and drinking enough Starbucks to get my fix before we headed back home to the blasphemous land lacking the famous green siren.

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Aw, yeah.

Yeah, we have no Starbucks at home…  and a bunch of coffee shops that literally sell the most disgusting coffee (as in brand of coffee) known to man.  And the ones that don’t use the most disgusting coffee, use the most disgusting soy milk.  It’s a real struggle.  Anyone who is bound to the land of non-dairy milk knows the issues.

Reality: 98% of non dairy milk tastes like the inside of a garbage disposal.  Or a spoiled can of refried beans.  And most coffee shops elect to use the cheapest soy milk because they want to maximize profit.

The cheapest soy milk tastes about as good as my dog’s breath smells.

Just so you know, my dog has had ongoing dental issues and almost all of his teeth pulled out.  Aka: his breath is NOT pleasant.

I mean come on, you already charge an additional 50-75 cents for the soy milk in the first place.  Which means that after anywhere from 5-10 lattes you’ve paid for the cost of the milk.  Perhaps even less if you’re using the cheap stuff.  At least give us something that tastes good.

Hint: You’d probably sell more of the soy lattes if they didn’t taste like underpants.

#petpeeve.

Moving on.

The aforementioned coffee shop I am sitting at now is an exception to this generality.  They make a better ICED latte than Starbucks.  Win.

Get me out of this town.

Or buy me a Starbucks.  A personal one that makes me lattes and double smoked bacon breakfast sandwiches, but doesn’t charge me a dime.

I’d be fine with that.

So, back to this guilt thing.  I’m trying this new thing with my dietitian to address my sitting issues, mainly being my inability to do it.  And combining the sitting issues with my food issues, and my exercise issues, to like hit the trifecta of my issues.

I totally used trifecta in the wrong sense of the word… but I get tired of using words like plethora and gamut.  So I no longer care.  It sounded cool.

So I have to walk to the coffee shop, once a week, and walk home, which assuming I don’t take detours is somewhere between 20-30 min each way, unless I’m doing my speed demon old tempos.  And I’m trying not to do that… minus the first time.

So the amount of exercise is contained. Check.

And since my old exercise routine was incredibly predictable I have to keep changing it up. I can do one walk a week.  That’s it.  Add one yoga session a week, maximum half hour.  That’s it.  Add another random exercise session, maximum half hour, that is neither a walk nor a yoga session.  And that is not running, HIIT, or pilates because, guess what, those are my old obsessions and 7 hours a day in a nutshell.  There you have my weekly exercise regime: three times a week, three different activities, maximum 30 minutes a session.  And if any component is not met, the alternative is doing nothing.  AKA, that regime is my maximum, not my minimum.

Cue me this week, trying to come up with a third activity when I don’t know how to bike, swim, roller-skate, skateboard, completely lack hand-eye coordination (or just coordination in general), and don’t have money for a fitness class, but damn it, I’m going to come up with something because the part of me that is still obsessed has to maximize on exercise time not minimize it.

Perhaps one day I won’t feel that urge.

Perhaps one day I’ll discover my inner Michael Jordan instead of my blatant Jim Carrey/Snooki sans alcohol klutziness.

Don’t crush my dreams.

And then there’s the whole food=exercise=calories=food=exercise=calories=… you get the idea, thing.  So when we exercise, or do activity, we make up for it.  I add food to the meal plan.  So I walk to the coffee shop, and I have a snack.  Latte, muffin, loaf, lunch, whatever it may be.  As long as it has an additional component to what I normally have.

And the third component of the trifecta: that sitting.  I have to sit, in the cafe, until lunch working on the blog.  Which is important because I really do love to blog.  And that’s one thing I really struggle to do standing up: it’s hard to concentrate.

But after all of my travelling the past couple days, I wasn’t feeling coffee-y.  But I still wanted to do my coffee shop, blog, and walk day yesterday, because it was gorgeous out and I actually was feeling inspired to write.  Carpe diem and all that jazz.

But what do you do when you’re craving just tea and a pear for snack, but you have to go to a cafe that doesn’t sell fresh fruit?

Answer:  You sneak a pear in, buy a tea, and most stealthily eat it in the corner facing away from the cashier.

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Cue the guilt.

You’re so not supposed to bring outside food into a restaurant.  But I did buy a tea!

It wasn’t exactly the most mindful of practices… every time someone came near my table, I threw the pear into my lap on a napkin.  Don’t do as I do.

Anyways, moving on.

You all know about my sitting problems, right? As in I can’t do it. As in I found ways to knit standing up, almost figured out knitting on a treadmill, figured out how to mount a laptop to my treadmill so I could watch Netflix without guilt, and will purposely do the laundry in as many trips to the basement as possible to maximize walking and standing time. As in, I have rules about what time of day I’m allowed to sit, how long for, and if you try to get me to deviate from this I’m an inconsolable ball of nerves ready to bite your head off. As in people have had to wrestle me to the ground mid-afternoon. Seriously.

I have issues.

And it’s an issue I haven’t been too keen to address, because the very thought of sitting for extended periods of time, as relaxing as it sounds in some distant corner of my mind, fills me with as much dread as eating Chinese food… no. It fills me with more dread than eating chinese food. Yep, sitting is potentially more terrifying than eating at this point. That kind of says something. Unless you combine sitting and eating. Mind blown.

I see dead people.

Okay no, I don’t. But it’s like the equivalent level of fear. Where is that line from anyways? Some horror movie…

The Hills Have Eyes?

Moving on.

So anyways, this issue pervaded through hospitalization. I finally was well enough that they were convinced I literally wasn’t going to just drop dead on the floor at a moments notice, so they started to give me passes from the hospital for a snack, or a meal, or to get a coffee, or to simply move beyond the jail-barred (literally) eating disorder ward door. And there’s a bus stop right outside the door. And I’m supposed to take the bus.

Yeah… that never happened.

I walked. I maximized time. I had half an hour, or two hours, or whatever it might have been. I knew I needed to do the food related task they assigned, and perfectionist that I am, I would do it. But I would order the coffee, the sandwich, the scone, etc to go. And I’d wind along side streets. I’d google-map my trip in advance, add 5 min to the walking times in case I happened to be slow (which let’s get serious… maximizing time here. I wasn’t slow.) and then when I got close to the hospital again, I’d pace back and forth along a nearby street until it was time to return. Food eaten, and hopefully appropriately compensated for. As much as possible anyways.

Then I went to residential. And they took away my movement. Completely. Bed to chair to table to chair to bed. That was it. For a week. And I was going stir crazy. But I hid it well… so well that after the first week was up, I could claim that my bowels were not working (which was somewhat true… when you starve yourself they stop working. Before I was hospitalized I hadn’t had a bowel movement in at least a month… I can’t remember. I mean, there’s nothing in there to process. TMI? Perhaps, but it’s the truth. No shame.), and that I needed to go on “poo-walks” to get them moving. I appeared solid, I appeared resolute, and I appeared outwardly calm. And those bowels weren’t working, so it was a half truth as opposed to a whole lie. One week of nothing, but then that was done. Back to the movement, to the lack of sitting. Check.

I left residential, four months later, completely entrenched in the movement and obsessive exercise portion of my eating disorder, but oblivious even to myself that this was a problem. This was “healthy”! Movement, moving, is “healthy”! And all the way through I never gave it up. Outpatient: sure, I was eating enough, but I was exercising again for hours (or hour if it was extremely high intensity… really I had a minimal supposed “calorie burn” which was a ridiculously high number… that was the amount of formal exercise I had to have) And then in addition, I had my time rules that allowed me to sit at certain hours of the day. All the time in between, I was ate least standing, ideally walking. I developed ways to incorporate otherwise relaxing activities into the activity grind so that I no longer actually had to relax while doing them. Because that would be the worst, laziest thing in the world. Obviously.

All my favourite activities suddenly became a part of my prison. Drawing? Either at certain hours of the day or not at all. Netflix/television? Only on the treadmill. Knitting? Standing up at the kitchen counter. Reading a book? Between my toes as I did crunches. Piano? No bench required. Everything that used to remotely bring me any kind of joy I found a way to make torturous. I found a way to suck the happiness out of every simple pleasure constantly, and the only thing that made this existence bearable was the anticipation of the incredible high that denial, restriction, rules, and following them to a T gave me. Somehow you can tolerate a lot of physical pain, a lot of emotional turmoil, and the incredibly quick deterioration of relationships if in the end you know you’re going to get the greatest high. Unfortunately, the high lasts as long as it takes to realize that you’re denying yourself something. Which is literally as long as it takes to read that sentence.

So what… three seconds? Maximum.

And then you’re on to planning the next denial, awaiting the wave of the next high, and the literal second of relief you experience when you realize that in that moment, literal moment, you have done enough to stop the whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and pain, and simply exist for a second. You’ve done enough to stop and feel yourself inhale, or exhale, before moving on to the next thing. The next skipped meal, the next set of 30 reps, the next light-headed footstep.

There were of course the other times where I just existed for a second.  Where all the thoughts stopped.  Where my world for a second was silent.  I imagine they would have been somewhat relaxing had I been awake for them…

Oh, right.  I forgot to mention those times were the times I blacked out.

Once it was mid run on the treadmill.  I fell forward and slid back, waking up in a crumpled pile between the the door and the edge of the still-running treadmill, a pile of blood on the floor coming equally from my completely skinned chin, and even moreso from my gauged kneecap that almost cut through to the bone.  I still have rather evident scars from both of those, and I don’t expect them to ever disappear.

Fun fact: I started my current job about four or five days after this.  I remember going to the interview, my chin shredded, and being asked, “Did you fall off your bike?  That’s an impressive case of road rash!”  I went with whatever anyone said to avoid admitting the truth.  “Actually, I’m close to death and I passed out while exercising on my treadmill because my body can no longer handle the physical exertion and it’s just trying to preserve itself by FORCING me to stop.  But please hire me for a job where I’m walking around and on my feet for eight hours a day!”  Yeah, I knew that wouldn’t fly.  Plus, I totally didn’t have a problem…

Another time it was mid walk with my dog on Main Street.  I tore up my exercise hoody and skinned my hand and elbow as I fell forward against a cement garbage can.  Or at least that’s what I gathered from when I came to the realization of the cold cement against my blistered skin.  The crowd of onlookers who were very concerned thought I had tripped over my dog’s leash.

I’m fairly sure that’s not what happened, but then again I don’t remember it too clearly.

And the third time was simply getting up from my couch in the living room.  I got up, felt instantly light headed, and staggered forward into the television, slicing all four fingers on one hand on the sharp underside, and permanently giving our flatscreen a leftward tilt.

It’s funny how you wake up, and you kind of know how you got there.  It’s like you remember the start of the fall, and then next thing you know you’re in a pile on the floor.  But those few seconds after you wake up are remarkably calm too.  Calm and shaky.

But you know, it’s like another three second thing.  And then you’re back to planning your denials.

I remember the pain, vaguely.  When you’re that sick, it’s almost as if your body doesn’t have the energy to really allow your nerves to react to pain.  Either that, or you become so used to being in pain that you don’t recognize it for what it is, and it just becomes normal. But I do remember pain.  I remember the dread that came before every exercise session.  I remember my body screaming at me as I laced up my shoes:

Please, please, please don’t do this to me.

I’m so tired.

I’m begging you… I really don’t want to do this.  I really don’t know if I can.

I hurt.

And going anyway.  Every day.  Hours a day.  Pounding the pavement, and swearing, literally swearing out loud every time someone smiled at me, or said hello, or looked at me with any trace of happiness as they passed me on the street as soon as they were out of ear shot.  Swearing at any car or truck that was loud because it hurt my ears, distracted me, gave me more discomfort.  As if the noise was shredding me as much as the physical activity was.

Fuck you.

That was my favourite.  Every time they were out of ear shot, I’d utter it.  How dare you be happy when life is hell?  What is there to be happy about? This is hell.

I remember coming home from a session and going to the bathroom, gingerly peeling off my socks and applying a new bandage to my feet.  My feet were a mess of callouses, blisters, and gashes just from the wear and tear of constant exertion and bone on skin contact with no adipose tissue to cushion them.  Every single toe was swollen and tomato red, and eventually they were all covered in white bandages.  I ended up with pinprick pressure point sores that felt like bee stings every time you put weight on them along the soles of my feet.  They were so painful I even went to the doctor with them.  I remember the look on his face when I removed my shoes and he saw my almost completely bandaged feet, and then when he looked underneath and saw the bloody, blistered mess that lay beneath the surface.  I asked him what I could do to get rid of the pinprick sores.

“Stop exercising,” he said, simply but seriously. “That’s the only thing that will make them go away.  I know it’s hard, and I know you don’t want to, but it’s the only way to get rid of them.”

That wasn’t happening.  I resolved that clearly I was doomed to have to endure the pain.  Price you have to pay for being “healthy”.  “No pain, no gain.”

When you look back on it in your mind’s eye, everything is in this soft fog.  On some level, you realize how sick you were.  As you write it out, without all the frills, and just stick to the cold, hard, undiluted facts, you see how many times that blackout could have turned into a blackhole.  How many times could I have fallen and never gotten up?  How many mornings did I start my day trying to avoid sitting, when I should have been thinking, perhaps if I don’t sit, this might be the last time I ever do?  And then the fog comes in and softens that reality, smoothes it over and glazes it so it doesn’t seem that bad.

Even the memory of my doctor looking at me, tears in his eyes, saying “If you don’t get off the treadmill, you are going to die.”, is soft, fluffy, like a movie.  Somehow detached from my life.  Okay, maybe I’ll die, but then I can just reinsert the DVD and I’ll be alive again.

I can still hear his words in my head, “Yesterday I was with my other anorexic patient.  I saw her two days before and she was okay.  Yesterday she woke up in the morning and started her treadmill, and 20 minutes into the workout she collapsed.  Her heart gave out.  She had a heart attack.  And now she’s dead.  She was 16.”

“She wasn’t me,” I said, dark circles under my eyes, wiggling my feet on the bench to move something because I was forced to sit in his office.  “She wasn’t trying to get better.  She was probably eating nothing.  I’m still eating.  I’m trying to get better.”

“She WAS you,” he said. “She was exactly like you.  She was in recovery.  She was eating, probably around the same amount that you are.  She was trying to get better.  But she couldn’t stop moving.  She couldn’t stop running.  She couldn’t stop walking.  And she wasn’t eating ENOUGH.  Just like you’re not eating ENOUGH.  Her body weight was too low.  Her organs were failing.  Eventually, they gave up.”

He slid his chair forward, looking me directly in the eyes.  “If you can’t stop moving… if you can’t stop getting on the treadmill… if you keep doing what you’re doing, you WILL die.  I don’t know when… it could be a month from now, or it could be tomorrow.  But you will.  And that would be a tremendous loss.  I don’t want to bury another patient.”

That was last August.

Soon after I started working with my current dietitian.  That choice changed, and saved my life.  That choice, as well as the choice to stop getting on the treadmill, and it wasn’t an easy choice to make.  But eventually you get so tired, and I don’t mean physically, I mean emotionally.  Mentally.  You enjoy the highs, but you get tired of the unbearable pain and torture of the incredible lows for only 3 seconds of bliss.

So I stopped exercising.  Even now, just starting to add back in exercise after being off of it since August, I still have sores on my feet. The pinprick sores are still there, as well as a couple blisters that haven’t yet totally healed. That’s eight months. You know how bad it was, if after eight months it’s almost, but not completely healed.

I stopped exercising… but that didn’t mean I was sitting.  I was still standing.  For everything.  My rules about time were, and are still in place.  I can sit until 9 am, at which point I must be up.  Now, months and months later, I’m allowed to sit for lunch, and as long as it takes me to drink a cup of tea afterwards.  Then I must be standing again until 6 pm at the earliest.  If I work until 8, all the better.

Where does this come from?

Does it come only from the eating disorder?  Is it just a symptom and complication of the overall problem?

I’d love to say yes.  But no, it doesn’t.

How many times have you sat and ate a brownie, and felt guilty about it?

How many restaurants have you gone to with the girls, and then lamented how many hours on the treadmill you would have to do to make up for whatever you ate or drank?

Have you seen the episode of “That’s So Raven” where they decide to lose weight and walk to the mall?

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How many joggers have you seen on the streets and then immediately felt guilty because you weren’t doing the same thing?

Society hails exercise and movement as the be all that ends all.  With our society being habitually and epidemically fat-phobic, not just in nutritional content, but also from a physical perspective, we are now groomed from a young age to look at movement and exercise as a black or white concept.

Movement/Exercise= Good.  Important. A+.

And inversely: Resting/Inactivity= Bad. Hazardous.  Fail.

Treadmills and other exercise equipment are branded with giant, innaccurate displays of calories burned with no option to turn off the display.

Exercise is no longer about the joy of moving your body.  It’s no longer about being outside, breathing fresh air, and allowing your body to carry you physically through life and relationships.  That is secondary.

These positive and simple benefits of exercise and activity, the real reason we move- to relieve stress, to interact with people and the world around us, and to encourage mind and body connection and mental health- is downplayed as additional benefits to a much more “important” picture:

The Bowflex ad tells me I can go from a size 14 to a size 4 if I use their equipment.

The trainer tells me that I can add 6 inches in muscle size if I do these exercises.

And if I supplement this regime with the paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Vegan, Vegetarian, or what have you diet, I’m guaranteed to be beach body ready by summer.

And my doctor supports this because exercise is always good.  Weight must always fall in the BMI charts.  And because all the diet pills don’t work, exercise is the new magic bean.

Exercise is viewed by society at large as the optimal definition of health.  And by health, I mean weight and shape.  In other words, the main reason we exercise is to control our weight and shape.  And thanks to all the calorie counters out there (MyFitnessPal, exercise equipment, CalorieKing, etc), not only is exercise a means to control our weight and shape, it is also a way to justify or “allow” us to eat.

Suddenly our whole existence is consumed by our consumption and our calisthenics.  If I want to look like x, I have to eat y, and in order to eat y, I must do z.  The whole theory of eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full is shot out the window, and replaced by a simple mathematical equation.  And mindfulness goes with it.

And because we are all so fat-phobic, and so consumed with this “healthy” way of life, the idea of NOT exercising, NOT moving your body, and NOT following this Nirvana-esque equation is mind boggling to many, not just those with an eating disorder.

When I was forced to stop exercising, even at my lowest weight, when I was a walking skeleton and passing out, I was met with resistance.  Resistance in my own head, but even more frustratingly from those around me.  Family, friends, even health care professionals.

“Well, the dietitian has taken away exercise.  I can’t do anything.”

“Not even walk?”

“No.”

“But… that’s so unhealthy!”

“But… that can’t be right!”

“Maybe you should get a second opinion!”

“But… that’s not balanced.  You HAVE to exercise!”

“But… you don’t want to get FAT though do you?”

“If you stop you’ll get fat, and you want to be toned!  You should still exercise so it doesn’t all come back as fat!”

As if that was the WORST THING IN THE WORLD!?

Let me remind you all:  My heart rate is 40 something lying down, 150 something when standing, and I’ve passed out just trying to get up off the couch.  In what world is it still considered a good idea to strap on your sneakers when you’re like this?!

In what world is a pregnant woman praised in a yoga class for staying thin when they’re trying to bring another life into this world?!

In what world is it considered healthy when my feet are bruised, bleeding, and covered in bandages because of the extent of abuse they have suffered, in the name of “health” and “fitness”?

In what world am I praised for literally running to my deathbed?

In what world do I go to the doctors two weeks after stopping exercise, still totally entrenched and medically unstable, to be met with plans by the same doctor who begged me to stop, to reincorporate exercise again?  Albeit, it was in the distant future, but still.  It should not have even been on the table yet.

Something needs to change.

Movement/Exercise DOES NOT ALWAYS = Good. Important. A+.

And inversely: Resting/InactivityDOES NOT ALWAYS = Bad. Hazardous. Fail.

Exercise does not mean exorcism, and it doesn’t equal health or happiness.  It’s time to start shifting our perspectives as a whole.  Not just as an eating disorder sufferer, survivor, recovery warrior, or support person, but as a society.  It’s time to come back to the basics.

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Why do we do what we do?

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Why do we move our bodies?

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Why are we strapping on our shoes and pounding the pavement?

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Are we exercising, or exorcising?

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If it’s to influence our shape or size, why is that so important?

 

And if it is that important:

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Is it worth digging our own graves?

It’s Just Not That Simple

Hello all!  Happy New Year, and a belated happy holidays!

*Cough* So I totally fell off the grid… and that pisses me off.  Cause you know, you follow all these blogs, and you look forward to the next post that’s going to hit your inbox.  So you wait, and you wait, and you wait… and then it’s been like a week and a half and you start to get frustrated and annoyed because you’re anticipant right?!  The things about successful blogs are consistency.  Like, they don’t have to post every day, because that has the potential to be annoying, but even if the blogger commits to once a week, or once every two, you know that there’ll be something there every Wednesday, or Friday, or Saturday morning for you to enjoy while eating your baked oatmeal slathered in peanut butter.

So you lose your patience and eventually stop following the blog all together because there’s no commitment. And if you’re going to devote quality oatmeal time, there had better be some dedication from the author too.  I mean, it’s oatmeal time!  It’s valuable.

And then you realize, in all your frustration, that you haven’t updated your own blog in… *grimmace, and cough* over a month.

Oops.

So my reasoning, which isn’t necessarily valid, but it’s the truth, is multi-faceted:

  1. December is like statistically, the crazy month in life.  I mean, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, Christmas decorating… and that’s all before Christmas and New Years themselves!
  2. Sitting down (and thus, committing to writing, as it’s a sitting activity) is still such a struggle.  Anyone who suffers from compulsive exercise issues totally knows what I’m talking about.  Considering that it’s been… hang on… 4.5 months-ish, since I was last allowed to exercise, you’d think that it would get easier.  And it’s true, I’m not totally crawling out of my skin anymore, but I’m still on the edge of taking some Trazadone when I know I’m going to be still for a significant period of time.
  3. I started seeing this totally amazing person… and no offence to all of you, but I’m kind of totally okay with that taking up a good chunk of my free time ❤ .
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Need I mentioned that as I was writing this, said amazing person showed up on my doorstep with flowers and a latte just the way I like it. Yeah, be envious, he’s mine.

4.  I’ve been on and off the recovery bandwagon.

Actually, that’s not entirely true… I’ve been 90% on the recovery bandwagon.  But there’s that 10% on average that just throws you, where you want to give up, where you just CAN’T, where you’re curled up in a ball on your floor sobbing, where the food weigh scale is more friendly than trusting your eyeballs, where you choose a carrot stick instead of cake, where you miss a snack, where you lie and say you had something when you didn’t.  Or where you lie by omission.

And those other days, where the ratio flips, where you’re like 10% recovery, and 90% falling apart at the seams (aka me the last three days).  Where everyone around you becomes concerned, and you feel horrible for putting them through the worries and stress, but you feel powerless to stop it.  Where your mom almost has to force feed you your lunch after your doctor’s appointment, where you cry yourself to sleep, where the only thing keeping you off the treadmill is that last shred of willpower and the knowledge that if you put one foot on it, it’s the beginning of the end.

And when you’re struggling, one of the hardest things to do is write a pro-recovery blog, because when you’re that low, when you’re almost but not quite suicidal, you would feel like a total fraud to tell someone to pursue the freedom of recovery when you can’t find the point yourself.

You all know what I mean.  Chances are if you’ve gone through the recovery process, you’ve been there.

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Image source RecoveryWarriors

One of the biggest questions I get, phrased in one way or another, is

“When are you going to give it up?”

“Are you ready to stop starving yourself now?”

“Mind over matter.  Just do it!”

“Don’t you understand what this puts me through?  Why are you doing this to me?”

“Don’t make me worry about you!”

“Isn’t it about time you started focussing on something else, moving on with your life?”

The odd thing, is that I could keep going for ages.  All the questions, all the interrogations, all the eye rolls, all the sighs, all the begging and pleading, all of the simplicity.  It all comes down to the same question:

“Are you done yet?”

Answer:  It’s just not that simple.

These questions bring up a host of emotions.  Guilt: Do you think I want to cause you mental anguish?  Shame: Why can’t I just be normal? What kind of a person is actually afraid of food? Fear: If I don’t change, will you give up on me?  Will you leave?  Anxiety: Why are you asking me this question in front of a plate of lasagna?! Lonely: You don’t understand… and I can’t make you.  The only way you’d truly understand is if you experienced it, and I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy. Frustrated: I’m tired of it too! Disgust: With self and with others- it’s not that simple, and why can’t it just be that simple?! Sad: Your impatience, and/or concern makes me sad that I can’t live up to what you desire for me and for yourself. Angry: It’s just not that simple!

I’ve seen a thousand and a half blog posts that rant about how eating disorders are NOT a choice.  And it’s 100% true- you don’t choose to have an eating disorder any more than you choose to have high blood pressure, or heart disease.  And I commend those who speak out against the stereotype.  But, I do not want this to turn into another rant about how modern society disregards the severity of eating disorders, chalks them up as first world problems, female problems, or choices, forgetting that they’re mental health conditions with a high mortality rate.  We know it happens.  The bush is beaten, the horse is flogged, we’ve run that one into the ground.  Let’s move on.

Let’s focus on recovery.  Let’s focus on the process of letting go.  Let’s look at WHY it’s not so simple.  Why is it not a choice?  Why can’t I just do mind over matter, and banish the eating disorder from my vision, peripheral and central.

Answer: It doesn’t leave, and it plays with you. It’s always there, and sometimes it’s so loud that you can’t ignore it. You wake up in the morning, never knowing if it’s going to be a good day or a bad one, and you never know if, or when, or what is going to set it off.

Sometimes it’s simple.  Take just before New Years, for example, when I somehow forgot to take my anti-anxiety medication for 5 days in a row.  Legitimately forgot because I somehow managed to miss putting it in with all my vitamins (yay zinc!) for the week.  Needless to say, there were multiple ED breakdowns, some very vicious words thrown around (sorry Mom!), and a lot of food freak outs.  Simple cause, simple fix: take your meds!

Sometimes, it’s not that easy of a fix.  Meds help, but they don’t fix the problem.  Sometimes, the trigger can be so small you don’t even realize it until it’s too late.

You wake up, and roll over in bed and your hand accidentally touches your stomach, and in that instant, you realize that you can no longer feel the groove of your intestine (yes, I’m serious), and suddenly you freak out.  You’re huge, you’re worthless, you need to go for a run, you need to miss breakfast, or a snack, or both.  You need dry lettuce instead of a sandwich.

You walk by a mirror, and catch a glimpse of yourself.  Does that shirt look tighter than it did two days ago?  Suddenly you see your chipmunk cheeks, your thunder thighs, and your almost overweight body staring back at you.

Someone tells you their New Years Resolution is to lose 30 lbs, though they look perfectly great the way they are, and you start to compare.  Are her thighs bigger than mine?  No… well if she has to lose thirty, I have to lose at least 50.

Someone talks about their run, or their diet, or how bad carbs are for you, and suddenly you find yourself living off of kale wraps and throwing stevia in everything instead of sugar and doing laundry in 80 trips to the basement instead of 2…

These are all triggers.  We know triggers.  We anticipate triggers.  We plan for triggers, and work on coping skills so that when eating disordered behaviour urges arise as a result, we can do something instead of engaging in a behaviour.

But as much as we plan for triggers, as much as we know that the behaviour goes against recovery, as much as we know that we’re setting ourselves back by engaging in these negative cycles, sometimes, YOU JUST CAN’T STOP.

They tell you not to calorie count.  You try your best.  But you wake up and start making your breakfast and without you even trying, your brain starts adding the numbers:

One egg: 70

1 tbsp peanut butter: 100

1/3 c rolled oats: 105

I’ll stop there.  I didn’t have to look these things up.  I didn’t have to use a fancy calculator like MyFitnessPal.  The numbers just came to me without me even trying.  The numbers are engrained. You don’t struggle for three years without having them memorized.  And in the time it takes to add an ingredient to the bowl, I know exactly how much is in there, especially if I happened to use a measuring cup or spoon, a behaviour that I can often quell but still haunts me more often than I would like.

They tell you not to equate your food with your movement.  They take away the treadmill, the stair stepper, or the jogging shoes.  And it’s tough.  And you go through withdrawals that are much the same to those of a drug addict.  No, I’m not even kidding.  My mom can vouch for the amount of times I’ve sat, shaking on the couch, so paralyzed by terror and intense urges to strap on the Nikes that it’s taking literally everything out of me.  Where you get a glazed look in your eyes because you’re so lost in your head that you can’t even be present in the room.

But the thing about food and exercise addictions, be it an addiction to gorging yourself or to restricting yourself, is that unlike an alcoholic, you can’t get rid of your fix.  You can’t go without food, and you can’t go without movement.  I can’t elect to not shovel my driveway in the winter, or rake my leaves in the fall.  I can’t choose to never vacuum the house.  I can’t choose to not do laundry, because my laundry machine’s location gives me a few stair steppers.  I can’t change the distance between different places at work any more than I can change the amount of times I have to go to the back to get something as opposed to staying out front.  I can’t elect to never eat again, or that will end just as poorly as it started.

In addition, we live in a world where restriction, deprivation, and intense physical activity is glorified and adored, and where the worst possible thing you could ever be is overweight or fat.  One who manages to go for a 7 km run every day is praised, while one who elects that they are tired decide to honour that by not pushing themselves that day are condemned.  Similarily, if we can find yet another way to use cauliflower instead of flour to make a typically carb-laden dish, we are regarded as “healthy” and “clean” and are glorified, regardless of the fact that it tastes nothing like the original, and quite often is a flavourless pile of mush. Those who decide to listen to their burger cravings and eat an actual beef burger with cheese, better do it in secret, or claim that this was a “cheat” day rather than admit that they actually like something that tastes good.  Because how dare you!?

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So for those in recovery from an eating disorder of any sort, or exercise obsession, the task becomes not to behave like the norm, but rather to do the opposite.  And not only is this met with resistance by the sufferer, but also by those around them who buy into the current diet mentality, clean eating epidemic, or exercise craze.  Often times, the same people who ask you “Are you done (with your eating disorder) yet?” are the same people that discourage you from sitting and watching a movie instead of going for a hike, or look on disapprovingly when you order fries instead of a side salad.  They are the same people who tell you about the next 10 lbs they have to lose, or the latest findings about how butter or bacon is basically slow acting arsenic.

I don’t know, am I done yet?  Or, rather, are YOU done yet?

I’m not trying to be ungrateful.  I’m not trying to condemn those who care enough about someone to even ask or be concerned about where they are at and where they are going.  And I’m not trying to minimize the pain that caregivers, families, and friends go through alongside the one suffering from an eating disorder. I’m not trying to create a bully, scapegoat, demon, or antagonist to the recovery process.  I’m not trying to blame.

But what I am trying to do is show a myriad of factors that make recovery, and the recovery process not that simple.

Because you’re right.  In the end, it does come down to mind over matter.  But considering the eating disorder is a disease of the mind, it’s kind of difficult to put your mind OVER anything.  Your mind is a little unreliable.

I know I shouldn’t fear pasta… but I still do.

I know I shouldn’t condemn a cookie… but I still do.

I know that I’ve been to rehab, outpatient, relapse, and outpatient again… but I’m still struggling.

I know that I hide it well… but every bite is still hard.

I know that I enjoy watching a movie… but every 10 seconds a little voice beats me up telling me I could be doing so much more.

I know that I could have died multiple times, that I’m lucky I didn’t… but I can’t just stop.

And if you think that that knowledge doesn’t piss me off, doesn’t frustrate me to all ends, and doesn’t make me feel so ridiculous when I try to explain that I’m crying over a piece of bread, then think again.

I know how to fight it, but sometimes I just can’t.  Sometimes the fear, the anxiety, the stress, the guilt, the shame, the unknown, and the power of the eating disorder voice is too much.

And that’s okay too.  Because that’s the reality of recovery.  You have slips, you fall, you take 10 steps back, followed by a giant leap forward.

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Image Source Recovery Warriors

I’ve heard once that on average, the time taken for eating disorder recovery (not full, not completely voiceless, but rather the true ability to choose not to engage and not to listen and not to focus on eating disordered things and just act and eat normally) takes 7 years.  7 YEARS!  And that’s without a significant relapse… i.e., if you have a significant relapse, as I did, you can start your clock again.

And that’s not meant to depress you.  It’s not meant to make you feel like it’s hopeless.  It’s not meant to make you give up.  Rather, it’s meant to empower you and educate you.

If you’re the person asking, “Are you done yet?”, perhaps this shows you how difficult it is, how long it takes, and how crucial it is to not minimize the process.

If you’re the one being asked, “Are you done yet?”, perhaps this makes you realize that no, chances are you’re not, but that’s okay.  And you don’t need to feel ashamed for not being able to just put mind over matter and give it up the same way that one gives up chocolate for lent.  Don’t minimize yourself, your struggle, or your process.  Don’t be ashamed for being exactly where you’re at.  Don’t be ashamed for crying over a slice of bread.  And don’t be ashamed that you’re struggling.

Because it’s just not that simple.

 

 

 

Taking Responsibility

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Image Source Recovery Warriors

“Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet…”

 

So like everyone else in the world, the return of the Queen to the music scene has me clamouring over tables and chairs to get access to her newest album, 25. The most hilarious part is that I don’t have cable at my house, and as I’ve mentioned before, you’ll never see me reading the latest issue of people, because really, I couldn’t care less.  No, seriously, I couldn’t care less.

My point, you ask?

Well, it kind of puts me behind the times.  I’m not the uber techy (I don’t even have Twitter. And I actually know what MSN is.  Yeah, I’m old school.), so I actually don’t read much online either, in terms of actual news and entertainment media stuff.  So I actually tend to find things out by the grapevine, or through Facebook or Instagram because, come on, doesn’t everyone find everything out from Facebook and Instagram?!

Yeah, I’m not that old school…

So, even though I’m Adele crazy, I have limited knowledge on the up and up.  I found out about Hello from a friend’s Facebook page, and almost tripped over my dog when I got up and did a happy dance with her return.

I’m not coordinated either.

Moving on.

So back to the hilarious part.  I knew Hello would come with an album eventually, but I kind of assumed it would be like every other artist on the planet where they’re all like, “Oh, and I’m releasing a new album…”

And we wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And then start growing a couple of grey hairs, or a moustache because it’s Movember…

And look!  Eight to twelve months later it’s here!  But it’s kind of a waste because by this point the radio has eaten up every song that would be on the album and played it so many times that we’ve heard everything and are sick of it except for that one song that every album has that is so pointless that we all sit there after listening and say, “What in the world was that?  Excuse me while I either fall asleep from boredom or find the cat in heat that clearly was outside my window…”

So Hello came out and I was hooked, but I let my guard down because you know the album won’t be released until my 447th mental breakdown in the recovery process occurs (yeah, that’s more than one a day!  Good math!).  Then Friday, I was heading to my weigh in (joy!) and had the radio on in the car to the news, and they were interviewing Adele, and suddenly they were all like, “Yeah, your album has been killing it, breaking sales records, etc etc…”

WHAT?!

IT’S OUT?!

It had apparently been out for a week…

I’m going to say that I totally planned this, because you know, it’s Black Friday, and I was totally waiting to buy this for a sale price.

Cough, knew it all along, cough.

Cue me running into my house after the weigh in and purchasing on iTunes.

I know, it’s not the physical copy!  I buy Adele in physical copy, because it’s Adele…  But I can’t wait!

And it downloads. And it buffers.  And I pull my hair out. #firstworldproblems

Then it begins:

 

 

“Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
To go over everything…”

 

Those poignant notes, the first few lyrics… they mean something different to everyone. I guess that is the wonder of music, literature, poetry, the written word: it’s something that is incredibly individual and personal. To one person, it might be a sad breakup song, to another it might be a reverent acknowledgement of a new beginning.

 

“Hello, it’s me…”

 

This song tugs at my heart strings. And I don’t hear the voice of my ex when it begins. I don’t picture his face. I don’t think of the times we had, or how we ended.

I hear myself.

 

“Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet”

 

No, I’m not self-absorbed. And no, I don’t have multiple personality disorder. And no, I don’t hear voices talking to me. You don’t need to cart me off to the psych ward.

Yet…

Okay, but seriously:

 

“Hello, it’s me…”

 

When I hear this song, it’s like a wake up, and the voice is muffled. Kind of like when you wake up on Christmas morning, and there’s a blanket of snow covering the ground, and all is quiet. The world is soft. The voice is soft.

 

“To go over, everything…”

 

When you have an eating disorder, your voice, your true voice, the person you are at the core of your being is shunted away. It’s buried. It’s thrown under the carpet and shoved away like a vile creature. It’s beaten. It’s bruised. It’s ripped, torn, and shredded. And it retreats. It falls into the corner and hides, tries to protect and preserve itself from further abuse. It lets itself become small, tender, raw, and accepts the abuse. It accepts it, because it’s resigned to it. It knows it will not win the battle, and it succumbs because by conforming it may be able to spare itself from further harm, further lashes, further shreds. It’s just trying to survive.

Why is it weak? Why does it give up so easy? Why does it run and hide and not put up a fight?

 

“They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing…”

 

It knows it’s a lost cause. It knows it cannot battle, because the enemy, the one doing all the harm, the tearing, the shredding, the bruising, is you. How do you win a battle against yourself?

It could try.

 

I’m someone.

You’re no one!

I’m unique.

You’re weird!

I’m special.

You’re worthless!

I have my own beauty.

You’re ugly!

I am struggling, and I’m scared/upset.

You’re just weak!

I’m tired.

You’re lazy!

I have my own individual skills.

You’re stupid!

I don’t know.

Because you are pathetic!

I feel alone.

You deserve to be alone!

I am enough, as I am.

You are nothing!

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Image Source Recovery Warriors

 

“Hello, can you hear me?”

 

It cannot win. Each retort is another barb, another lash, another whip. And these whips, these lashes cut deeper than anything anyone else could say or do to harm you… because you truly believe them. You truly do. You feel them. And if so much hatred exists for yourself, your core self knows there’s no point in putting up a fight. It retreats, it hides, it shelters itself. And you experience that phenomenon, that loss of self, that celebrated and yet detrimental numb. The ED numb.

But the human body, the human soul is not airtight. It’s not a vacuum. And we are all science gurus, so we know that something has to fill that space. Something has to fill the place where your true self once was. If we were all mason jars, that extra space would be filled with air. Air is harmless.

Yeah, the soul isn’t quite like that.

 

“I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be
When we were younger and free…”

 

So what fills the space?

 

“I’ve forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet…”

 

The eating disorder. The behaviors, the thoughts, the obsessions. An eating disorder isn’t like a virus- it doesn’t float around in the air and fill the space of someone that has beaten themselves down in the same way that chickenpox infects the cells of someone with a compromised immune system. You can’t “catch” an eating disorder simply because you feel like shit about yourself. There’s a whole gamut of things that play into that including genetics, family history, existing ideas and rituals surrounding food and body image, a period of weight loss, and a multitude of other things. But I am saying that you’re not going to find an eating disorder in someone that is completely and one hundred percent okay with who they are, where they are in life, and where they come from (if that person actually exists…).

The eating disorder is a behaviour. It’s a way of thought. It’s a mental illness. But it’s a symptom of a greater issue, a bigger insecurity.

 

“There’s such a difference between us
And a million miles…”

 

Now let’s be clear here. I said it before- you’re the one that beats yourself down. You can blame the media. You can rant and rave, and say that if we didn’t have unrealistic ideals being thrown at us left and right, messages of how we should look, behave, feel, think, value, etc spewed at us constantly, we wouldn’t think so lowly of ourselves. We can say, if we didn’t have our parents telling us what we should look like or do, or if we hadn’t been abused as a child, if we hadn’t been neglected, we wouldn’t have the problems we do. There wouldn’t be eating disorders. That it isn’t our fault that we have this negative cloud that consumes us, that everyone and everything else is to blame.

These things aren’t to be minimized. Their impact on us is real, and they do affect us. Humans are not machines in terms of energy use and calorie burn, so why would we be machines when it comes to emotion, thought, and feeling. We are creatures that are based off of relationships and interaction, both with other human beings and with the environment around us. The media affects us, as do the words and actions of those we interact with on a daily basis. They’re meant to.

However we can’t blame everything on them. If you do, you’re looking for a scapegoat. You’re looking for something to blame for the fact that you feel so horrible about yourself. Is it because your core self is already so bruised, to add another responsibility, another fault to it is just too painful and might cause it to actually break?

Possibly. It’s a very real possibility.

Think of how loaded the statement is:

“I am resposibile for the way I feel about myself. I cause myself pain. I hurt myself. I think that I am the scum of the earth, and I take every opportunity to push my own nose into the dirt. I am responsible. I feel this way. I hold these values, and it is I and I alone that upholds ridiculous standards for myself. I whip myself. I beat myself. I lash myself. It is I and I alone. This is my burden that I have put on myself.”

If you try and shift THAT to anyone else, who would blame you?!

 

“Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times…”

 

But read it, and read it carefully. For every word of it is true. People can hurl things at you, but you don’t have to adopt them for yourself. You do have a choice to accept the idea of a perfect body, or a perfect life, or an ideal path and purpose.   The choice exists.

 

“To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never seem to be home…”

 

That doesn’t mean that the choice is easy. And that doesn’t mean that it is your FAULT that your life is where it is. Fault implies judgement, and it implies that at some point you made the wrong decision. When we are young we learn our values from others because we are impressionable. Nature AND nurture. However, once we are older, and we have the ability to think for ourselves, we do have a choice. The choice isn’t easy. But the choice also isn’t static. Because we decided we value one thing, we don’t have to always value that thing.

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Image Source Recovery Warriors

For me, one of the most crucial points to progression in my recovery was realizing that I have choice, and that though these thoughts and feelings about myself were someone learned at some point, it is my choice to maintain these thoughts and feelings, and values. This realization, the realization that I am responsible for myself in both mind, body, and soul, is huge. It puts the onus on me.

It’s a tough one to bear. It’s a tough load to carry.

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Image Source Recovery Warriors

“Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart…”

 

“I am resposibile for the way I feel about myself. I cause myself pain. I hurt myself. I think that I am the scum of the earth, and I take every opportunity to push my own nose into the dirt. I am responsible. I feel this way. I hold these values, and it is I and I alone that upholds ridiculous standards for myself. I whip myself. I beat myself. I lash myself. It is I and I alone. This is my burden that I have put on myself.”

 

But it is only through this acceptance of responsibility that we can begin to shift our perspective. We are no longer the victims of society. We are no longer the victims of someone else’s opinions. We are no longer powerless. By using the media, or our upbringing as a scapegoat, we are taking power away from ourselves. We are giving into the belief that we are weak, that we couldn’t resist. And if we give into this belief, this utter sense of inevitability, of powerlessness, we are only further stifling ourselves, our core selves.

We are swinging back the bat for another beating.

“Hello, how are you
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself I’m sorry…
It’s no secret that the both of us
Are running out of time..”

So we must accept responsibility. Acknowledge the part that all the other people, and the media in our lives have played. But accept responsibility for who you are in this moment.

“I am resposibile for the way I feel about myself. I cause myself pain. I hurt myself. I think that I am the scum of the earth, and I take every opportunity to push my own nose into the dirt. I am responsible. I feel this way. I hold these values, and it is I and I alone that upholds ridiculous standards for myself. I whip myself. I beat myself. I lash myself. It is I and I alone. This is my burden that I have put on myself.”

 

“So hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done…”

 

By taking responsibility you are taking back power, and giving it back to the self that you so abused, so hurt, so tormented. You are giving it a break, apologizing, allowing the wounds to have air. You are lifting the rug you shoved it under.

 

“Hello, its me…”

 

Can you hear it?

 

“I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet…”

 

It’s your voice.  It’s still there.

 

“Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times…”

 

It’s on the other side.  It must have tried to call you a thousand times.

 

To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done…
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart…”

 

It’s sorry, AND you’re sorry.

 

Hello.”

 

Wake up.

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Image Source Recovery Warriors